If it is a marked police car, you should pull over. But an unmarked car puts you in an uncertain situation. It could be real or fake.
This is a special problem for women, as rapists and serial killers have been known to use police lights to pull women over in less populated areas. The possibility is alarming, and it is a legitimate concern.
Many of the email messages pose a specific scenario and provide a specific solution. Is everything you read in these email messages true?
Here is one example:
Subject: Important: state police code - Please Read!
I knew about the red light on cars, but not the *77 on my cell phone.
It was about 1 p.m. in the afternoon, and Lauren was driving to visit a friend. An unmarked police car pulled up behind her with the lights on. Lauren's parents had always told her to never pull over on the side of the road for an unmarked car, but to wait until she got to a gas station or other safe place.
Lauren who had actually listened to her parents advice, promptly called *77 on her cell phone. She told the police dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car behind her with a flashing red light on his rooftop, but she would not pull over right away. The dispatcher checked to see if there were police cars where she was driving. There weren't, and the dispatcher told her to keep driving, remain calm, and that he had back-up on the way. Ten minutes later police cars surrounded her car and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind her. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.
I never knew about the *77 cell phone feature. A woman alone in a car should never pull over for an unmarked car. Police will respect your right to keep driving until you reach a safe place. A service representative at Bell Mobility confirmed that *77 was a direct link to state trooper information.
So, now it's your turn to let your friends know about *77. Send this to every woman (and person) you know; it may save a life. This applies to all 50 states.
Do you believe that story? You should not automatically believe stories sent via e-mail. Check them out first to see what is true. In this case, not all aspects of the story can be verified.
Snopes.com, a Web site that reports on hoaxes, finds that some aspects of the story are true and some are questionable.
The *77 cell number recommended in this story does not apply in Kentucky, nor does it apply in most other states. Drivers should instead call 911 to report being pulled over by an unmarked car with a flashing light. Let emergency personnel know that you are slowing down, that you’re turning on your emergency lights, and that you intend to drive on to a gas station or other well-lit, occupied area. You will pull over there. The 911 operator should be able to let you know whether there are legitimate, unmarked cars patrolling your area. Follow all directions of emergency personnel via 911.
According to Snopes.com, "you might subsequently be cited for failing to heed a police officer’s commands; you will avoid the potential for harm." Calling 911 to report the situation and using your emergency lights will help your case if you are cited, though there are no guarantees. Most police officers in unmarked cars do understand why women feel they must get to a safe place to pull over, rather than stopping on a deserted highway. Letting the police officer talk to emergency personnel on your cell phone should help you keep from being cited for not stopping for the police.
References: Mikkelson, B. (2009, September 8). The Knockoff Pullover. Snopes.com. Retrieved March 25, 2010, from http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/fakecop.asp.
DISPATCH Magazine On-Line. (2008, September 12). Highway Notification Numbers. Retrieved March 25, 2010, from http://www.911dispatch.com/911/mobilenumbers.html.
Source: Robert H. Flashman, Extension Specialist for Family Resource Management, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture